Camaro Turbo Manual Quick Drive Review: Entry-level Fun
Quick enough to have fun, cheap enough to be affordable: Chevy is looking out for the budget-minded enthusiast with the Camaro Turbo.
As the editor of LS1tech, and several of its sister sites, I have been fortunate enough to drive a handful of Chevrolet’s high-performance offerings. Models like the Camaro SS 1LE and Corvette Grand Sport offer near-supercar levels of capability and performance, with bulletproof Chevy reliability and an obtainable price point.
Of course, that 1LE is still around $50,000, which, although obtainable, is more than a bit out of reach for younger, budget-conscious car enthusiasts. So, what are young people supposed to do, besides save their pennies and wait? Well, Chevy has an answer for them, as well.
This is the Camaro Turbo. This entry-level variant of the Camaro can be had for just $26,900 after the $995 destination charge, and before incentives. That modest chunk of change affords this Camaro a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine, which is good for 275 horsepower at 5,600 RPM and a substantial 295 lb-ft of torque at 3,000 RPM. That potent little package is paired to a 6-speed manual transmission (an 8-speed automatic is also available, but you should skip it).
Of course, this particular test car has a few optional goodies tacked on. This includes the RS package, which, for $1,950, adds the slick 20-inch wheels, HID projector headlights, LED tail lights and exterior tweaks, like the grille and rear spoiler. The other two options are more modest, a $485 heavy-duty cooling package and an extra $395 for the bright yellow paint job. That cooling package is a big deal, but I will revisit that shortly. Total price, as tested, is $29,730. Not bad.
On the Daily Drive
The Camaro Turbo, especially with the RS package, is on the stiffer side of the American sports car spectrum. However, it’s not unduly harsh, especially for a car enthusiast’s fun daily driver. I prefer it’s more connected approach, as compared to a Mustang or Challenger.
That said, the visibility is dreadful. The seating position is low, which I like, but the windows are tiny, and even my 6’1″ frame had trouble with the Camaro’s massive blind spots. The rear view camera is a lifesaver.
Additionally, despite being rather large in size, the Camaro, in general, doesn’t make good use of it’s available interior volume. You can fit four people in it, but the rear leg room and headroom means that anyone other than adolescents will feel claustrophobic. The trunk is rather large in volume, but the unusually small trunk opening severely limits what can and will fit in there. So you experience the typical shortfalls of daily driving a sportscar, even with the larger packaging and footprint that the Camaro has.
The saving grace is the fuel economy, which is epic. Yes, really. While that SS 1LE averaged just 15 MPG overall, the Camaro Turbo returned an average of 27 MPG overall, during my testing. Extended freeway driving easily saw the Camaro returning in excess of 34 MPG.
Read more about the Camaro Turbo on the next page…